Each week during Women’s History Month, we honor and celebrate the women Veterans within our museum and volunteer staff ranks. Their countless contributions and selfless acts of service inspire us daily.

Meet Terri Swank, Ohio National Guard Veteran and Volunteer at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum.

Q: Where were you stationed, what was your job?

A: I was in the Ohio Army National Guard in the Columbus area for 36 years.  I began as a Private and Medic in 1979, then worked my way up to Sergeant First Class (E-7).  I applied for and was selected to the Interservice Physician Assistant Program, and I attended IPAP 2002-2004.  I was commissioned as a 2LT at graduation in Sep 2004.  I deployed to Iraq in 2006-07 and Afghanistan in 2011-12.  I also deployed stateside for Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Gustav, snow storm of April 1987, Southern Ohio Flood, as well as Humanitarian Missions to Honduras twice and El Salvador.  I retired in 2015 as a Major.

Q: What does service mean to you?

A: For me, service is a family tradition and means giving of yourself to a bigger purpose.  My great grandfather served in the Civil War, my grandfather served in WWI, two uncles served in WWII, and my dad served in the Navy.

Q: What impact has service had on your life?

A: Having served 36 years, the military had a huge impact on my life.  I met so many people from all walks of life and learned they all have something to contribute, regardless of rank or education.  The military also opened my eyes to how people live in other countries, such as my first trip to Honduras in 1982, where basics such as a home and shoes were a luxury in areas away from big cities.  During the Hurricane Katrina mission, it was hot and humid with lots of mosquitoes, a bad stench, no electricity or showers initially, and we ate plenty of MRE’s.  I would do it all again because to give up my creature comforts for the sake of helping those in need without homes, belonging, etc. was rewarding more than you can imagine. 

Q: What is your favorite exhibit inside the museum?

A: I have a couple favorite exhibits.  The first one resonates with me when Joshua Mantz tells his combat story, and the medic has to decide which soldier to treat.  It’s raw, emotional and real in the medical field of combat.  The second one is the Honor Flight shirt in the Service Continues alcove because I am a Guardian with Honor Flight Columbus.  The exhibit I really love are all of the Veterans who come through the door at NVMM. 

Q: What advice would you give to other women starting out in their military career?

A: My advice to other women starting out in the military is to take advantage of what it has to offer (such as education, opportunities, etc.) while performing your duties to the best of your ability.  You will get out of it what you put into it.  Don’t cheat yourself.  Plus, your actions can positively or negatively impact the perception of women in the military.  Choose wisely.

WED-SUN 10 A.M. - 5 P.M.
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